[IRP] IRP IGF notes

Lisa Horner LisaH
Mon Sep 20 12:27:58 EEST 2010

Hi all

Thanks to everyone for a great IGF....both those of you who were there in person, and those who were participating and tweeting from afar.  The Charter went down really well, and I think we've successfully raised the profile of the coalition in the IGF.  So well done everybody!

I've jotted down some notes below about discussuions that were had about the Charter and other coalition business at the IGF, and tried to draw out outcomes and next steps.  If I have anything wrong, please do say.  Also if you disagree with any of my suggestions for next steps or would like to discuss further.

Apologies for the length of the notes...we discussed a lot, and I think it's important to keep everyone in the loop.

Thanks again to everyone for their hard work.  Onwards and upwards...let's make this year even better!

All the best,

General Reception to the Charter

?         This was fantastic. A wide range of people expressed a lot of interest in the Charter process, including new faces and people who have in the past been a bit more sceptical about the effort.  It?s really emphasised for me the importance of concrete initiatives in mobilising people and getting them involved.

?         Our workshop was really busy - there weren?t enough chairs or copies of the Charter for everyone (we had around 55 copies).

?         There were a few critical comments.  These included opinions that:

?  It?s not closely related to the internet ? a rehashing of rights rather than elaboration on internet issues.  We don?t need to restate rights that are the same online and offline.

?  It?s a bit too negative and gives too much ground (i.e. not coming out strongly enough on condemning internet censorship and giving too much space to permitted restrictions on content and expression).

?  It doesn?t focus enough on worse case scenarios.

?  The language is misleading in places, and could easily be misinterpreted. Definitions of issues aren?t clear ? i.e. what is an ?internet offence?.

?  It?s not practical, visionary or enforceable enough.  Too simplistic.

?  It?s too wide ranging, brings too much together, and isn?t clear enough between rights and principles.

?         I think some of these comments are valid, and we can work to take them on board.

?         However, on the whole, the response was tremendously positive.  On balance, the vast majority supported the Charter.  Whilst there were reservations over content, the process was really commended.  People said that it was a much needed text and process, and applauded our efforts.  New people have come on board and want to participate.  Furthermore a number of people have said that the Charter will really help them in their work. There was real energy and enthusiasm.  So I think we all deserve a huge pat on the back ? congratulations everyone!
The discussions we had in the coalition and with the wider IGF community have helped us to identify a few next steps (below).  Here?s what I think came out of it all...for those who have participated, please do correct me if I?m wrong!  Also, we can discuss these next steps that I suggest...please send your thoughts and ideas through.

1) Objectives of the Charter

?         We've identified three overarching objectives of the Charter (in addition to its immediate aim of translating UDHR rights to apply to the internet):
- To provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration between different stakeholders.
- To provide an authoritative document that can influence policy making and norms
- To provide an information resource for different groups, with a focus on policy makers.

?         In most of our discussions, I think there was a general sense that we couldn't expect to be able to take the document to the UN or member states and demand its ratification/incorporation into law.  At least not in the short term.  Instead, our aims are more related to a bottom-up process of norm setting, and the provision of a useful document that people can use in policy and law making, and in advocacy.

?         Whilst we didn't have an in-depth discussion on the ownership of the Charter, I got the sense that some would still like us to follow a process of getting endorsements.  If we go down this route, it would perhaps be better to aim for endorsements by individuals rather than organisations, given our multi-stakeholder status.  But my feeling in the short term is that we should focus on getting the text right, and keep it as an IRP coalition document.  But let's discuss this further.

2)      Length of the charter and the punchy working group

?         There was some discussion about the length of the Charter.  Some felt that it was too long and unwieldy, covering too wide a range of rights.  However, most felt that we shouldn?t try to reduce the length.  Some commented that we shouldn?t be worried about making it even longer.  There was a general feeling that part of the value of the Charter lies in its comprehensiveness, and its attempt to cover all of the issues and the relationship between them.

?         However, to complement the detailed and somewhat technical document, there was a strong sense both within and outside the coalition that we should produce a short, punchy and visionary document that outlines the top level principles.  This could be a tool for advocacy and mobilisation.

?         We felt we didn't need to wait to finish the consultation process before we start on this.

?         Brett, Shaila, Henrik, Dixie, Karmen and Carlos have formed an aptly named ?punchy working group? to take the lead with this.  Brett ? could you update us on your workplan?

3)      Incorporating technical feedback

?         There was a feeling that the text is currently not as coherent as it could be.  Some felt that some of the wording might cause misunderstandings or was inconsistent with human rights language and standards.

?         It was also felt that the two levels we wanted to use to structure the Charter (human rights and interpretive principles) were sometimes not clearly separated out in section 1 of the document.

?         We decided that we should look at these issues before we consult further on the Charter.  We don?t want to change the content or real substance of the Charter.  The only changes that will be made at this stage are intended to correct and to clarify what?s already there.

?         I suggested that Dixie Hawtin (Global Partners) takes the lead with this work.  Dixie will have some capacity in the coming weeks, and has a background and qualifications in human rights law.  She would be supported by Wolfgang and Meryem in this work, and also other human rights contacts that she has.

?         Meryem has also said that she will be able to complete the draft of the second section, producing tables for the missing groups of rights.

?         If you have any concerns about the current text in terms of language or phrasing, this is your chance to send them through.  Please make your comments by email to the list.  Please be as specific and constructive as you can with your comments, referring to specific articles and making suggestions for changes in the text where necessary.  DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS: 10 October.  We will produce a new draft by 31 October. This will be Draft 1.1.

4)      Once we have Draft 1.1 ? next steps

?         We had a lot of discussion about where to take the Charter from here.  I think there was general consensus that working towards creating an improved and solid version 2.0 by the next IGF would be a good idea (assuming it happens!).

?         We agreed that we need to go to specific institutions with expertise, like CoE, Unesco and traditional human rights organisations.

?         I think what also really came out of this IGF was the value of the *process* of creating the Charter as a means of fostering participation, collaboration, outreach and a general sense of ownership.  I think most agreed in our discussions that we could, and should, try and foster a broad-based consultation process, inviting comments and participation from as many people as possible through our own networks and beyond.  However, we also agreed that the Charter itself is not supposed to be a consensus document.  Rather, it?s a genuine effort to translate existing human rights standards to apply to the internet.  So we agreed that we could invite comments from a wide range of people (according to a framework/list of questions), under the understanding that we don?t necessarily have to incorporate them all. We will however consider them all, and use them as a resource to improve and strengthen the text where we can.

?         We had a very quick discussion about the role of the expert group, in our planning and our debrief meeting.  We?re extremely grateful for the work that our experts have done so far on the text, working on a voluntary basis.  Special thanks to Wolfgang for leading on section 1, and Meryem for section2.

?         Looking forward, I think there?s a general feeling that we still need some kind of expert group to make sure that the text is accurate and strong. That will also help us guard against any political/corporate/other influence on the substance of the text.

?         I?d like to suggest that we shift modes a bit to form some kind of oversight group that helps to ensure that the text is accurate and meaningful as we move forwards.  Maybe we could make the group a bit bigger, with people with different backgrounds and expertise.  Now we have a good draft, I think this group should play a supportive rather than a drafting role....that we can ask them for advice on specific issues and to check the text.  These are just my ideas at the moment....we should discuss this further. If you have any thoughts on this, please feed them in!

?         We will draft a framework and plan for consulting on the Charter as we move forwards, based on ideas from our meetings here at the IGF.  I?ll send a draft of this through asap for comments, and we can take it from there.

?         Carlos has kindly volunteered to look into technological platforms that we can use to collect and collate comments from wider networks, learning  from the experience of the Brazilian civil rights framework process.
In depth policy discussions

?         I think there?s a lot of work to be done on section 2 of the Charter ? this is where we?re teasing out the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders, defining more specific principles, and exploring where the boundaries and limitations might lie in relation to specific issues.

?         I?m really keen to explore ways of holding in-depth discussions, preferably face to face, on these issues.  Bringing together top experts from different stakeholder groups to really thrash out the issues.  We?d need to find some funding for this.  If you have any ideas, please let?s discuss.  Whether it?s collaborating on a funding proposal or encouraging small contributions to put into a central pot of funds.

5)      Other coalition business

?         Most of our coalition discussions here at the IGF focused on the Charter.  We agreed this would be the focus of our work as we move forwards.  But we?ll also of course encourage other initiatives that people want to undertake, and we should keep an eye on the IGF process...especially as its future is still unclear.

?         We should start thinking about making our formal feedback statement about this year?s IGF...any volunteers to take the lead with that?

?         We also need to continue the discussion about funding.  There was general agreement that we don?t want to formalise the coalition in terms of legal status or membership...its value and power lies in its flexibility and openness.  But there was also agreement that we need funding if we want to reach our full potential...not least to hold meetings to foster collaboration and work on the Charter.  But also so that a wider range of people might be able to take the chair in the future.

?         We have a few options and can continue to discuss.  One is for our existing organisations to raise and administer funds on behalf of the coalition.  Another is to house ourselves within an organisation with a formal structure...I suggested Global Partners? sister charity, Global Dialogue, which is currently housing two human rights networks.  These are thoroughly independent, but can take advantage of GD?s registration as a UK charity to raise and administer money.  If you?d like to discuss this further, please do let me know.
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